Francois Gabart on Macif (Photo by Francois Gabart / Macif / DPPI/Vendee Globe Race)

Gabart ETA this weekend

Fleet News
Jean Pierre Dick still racing
Winner’s weekend
Sanso without wind instruments

Breaking News

The fleet leaders are expected to arrive in Les Sables d’Olonne, Vendée, France either Saturday evening, or Sunday morning. Please visit the website for regular updates. The current plan is that the first three boats crossing the finish line and making their way down the canal will receive LIVE coverage on the Vendée Globe web TV channel hosted by Daily Motion.

Fleet News

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has delayed his decision whether he will abandon the race, or to try and make it back to Les Sables d’Olonne until after the Azores. He is currently talking with his architects (Guillaume Verdier and VPLP) and considering whether or not he can use the water ballast system effectively to provide greater stability to his boat. Previous, Vendée Globe winner, Alain Gaultier, said today web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE, “Jean-Pierre Dick is probably sailing with 6 or 7 tons of water in the ballast, which is fine and safe when sailing upwind. But when sailing downwind, the situation may change. I know Jean-Pierre will make the right choice and do what needs to be done to stay safe.” Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss), today on the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE said “there’s some big weather ahead. It’s not something I would do – well maybe before I had a family.” At the end of the show, a congenial Thomson said, “I would rather that Jean Pierre Dick finished the race and came third and I came fourth then he didn’t finish the race at all.” Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is currently making fair progress down the track and although Alex Thomson(Hugo Boss) is slowly picking off the miles but on some level Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) is also keeping him at bay. There currently stands 130 miles between Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) and third place.

It’s not over until it’s over

It’s simply a matter of days. The estimated times of arrival (ETA) forFrançois Gabart (MACIF) and Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) are becoming more refined. It was only 74 days ago that we watched the fleet of 20 intrepid adventurers cast off in the rain and sail off into the grey, overcast north Atlantic. The weather is good for a rapid progression towards the finish.

With only 1400 miles from the finish line, the young pretender seems likely to have knocked out his challenger in the 74th round.  The challenger,Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) is currently behind by 89 miles, in other words, ten hours of navigation. The weather situation is not complicated and will automatically benefit François Gabart (MACIF) who gybed this morning and headed straight towards the stronger breeze, whose generous west southwesterly winds will advance him with unstoppable force. At best, he should arrive Saturday morning (January 26) on the finish line, and at worst in the evening. But it’s looking like the winner will smash the record of around 77, or 78 days. An incredible feat! Currently, Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) should finish ten hours later, knocking 11 days off his circumnavigation time of 4 years ago. Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) who allowed for 90 days should have food to spare when he returns.

Dear Prudence

It is these at best case scenarios that Race HQ, now on the ground and located in Les Sables d’Olonne, are working towards in their daily meetings. However, the skipper of MACIF is not immune to danger. He still has to negotiate the Azores, Cape Finisterre and the congested maritime traffic lanes of the Atlantic, where cargo ships and fishing boats go about their business. Lest we not forget the large marine mammals and other hidden dangers that inhabit these waterways.

The weather conditions are expected to deteriorate as they enter the Bay of Biscay, with southwesterly winds of 30 to 35 knots and 5 metre waves.François Gabart (MACIF) told the French version of the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that he was not planning to take any risks. “I’ll definitely be careful, I won’t take risks. I haven’t really taken any, but I’ll take even less now! I’ll keep things simple, I won’t try to go too fast to gain half a mile or something. Things would be different if Armel were ahead of me, but he’s not, so I’ll make sure we surf nicely and smoothly.”

Sanso wind blind

Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) told the web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that he was sailing his Open 60 like a dinghy. He sent this further detail in an email to the race HQ “I have been sailing for a few days as if it was dinghy sailing because I don’t have any wind information. The boat’s electronics haven’t been going well since Cape Horn and for three days nothing has been working. Thank God the automatic pilots are working though! The problem is with the wind vanes – the three I have on board are not functioning. It is a problem to sail the boat fully at 100% since during the day I can helm as much as possible but at night it is more difficult.” This inconvenience will undoubtedly delay his progress and he is now anticipating that he will reach the Equator later than he expected.

Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and Mike Golding (Gamesa) will cross the Equator in around 36 hours, followed 24 hours later by Dominique Wavre(Mirabaud) who told web tv show Vendée Globe LIVE that it could be his 20th crossing. In fact he had crossed it so many times that he was unsure of the exact figure.

 

I’m pretty happy with my route and my current position. The wind is favourable and I’m on the right side of the anticyclone. I can’t wait to get closer to you all in France! The sea is very calm, there are 15-17 knots of wind and the temperature has dropped a little. The weather is perfect, I wish it could stay like that until the end but ‘m afraid it’s going to change.

I saw a boat last night, but there were more yesterday, and pretty close to me, too. But I think as we get closer to the Azores, there will be more traffic. Unfortunately, it’s not only big cargo ships but also smaller fishing boats. Hopefully, they’ll have their AIS on. I know there are some whales in the area, too, but even when you’re careful, there’s not much you can do about them.

I’ll definitely be careful, I won’t take risks. I haven’t really taken any, but I’ll take even less now! I’ll keep things simple, I won’t try to go too fast to gain half a mile or something. Things would be different if Armel were ahead of me, but he’s not, so I’ll make sure we surf nicely and smoothly.

Finishing on Saturday morning would be great, but given the weather conditions, it’s not very likely. I’d love it, though.

François Gabart (FRA, MACIF)

The sun is up, there are a few clouds and the traffic is getting heavier, with several cargo ships. The wind will get stronger soon and we’ll sail as fast as possible to see you all soon.

I had 90 days of food with me on board so I’ll be fine, no problem, I won’t starve like I did four years ago. That’s good news!

There is a 10-hour gap between me and François, we’ll have to try to catch up a bit in the next few days. It’s not going to be easy as he will face more favourable conditions in the next few hours.

The winter conditions at the very end of the race will be tough, it will shake a lot. The Bay of Biscay will definitely be tricky.

Armel le Cléac’h (FRA, Banque Populaire)

Jean-Pierre Dick has 2,000 miles left before the Vendée Globe finish line and with the weather forecasts we have for that geographical area he is in, I don’t know if he can carry on and sail all the way to Les Sables d’Olonne without a keel. I’m not sure he will actually try to do it but he hasn’t abandoned the race yet. He’s probably going to make a decision soon, but it will definitely be difficult to carry on in his current situation.

I’ve never sailed a boat without a keel, so I don’t know what it is like and how complicated it is. I can just assume. Are you sure he is really considering doing it?

At the moment I have 20 knots of wind and I’m making good progress. I may cross the finish line on the 26th or 27th, depending on the weather. But with the fishing boats andpotential UFOs in the water, we’ll need to be particularly careful.

Alex Thomson (GBR, HUGO BOSS)

The conditions have been great for an hour or so, the wind is more stable, I’m happy with that. It was tougher bearlier, with heavy rains and rough weather with so many frequent changes I had to spend a lot of time working on the boat settings. I think all that is behind me now. Oil rigs were quite scary too, but there are less of them now. What I now need to be careful about are the fishermen!

I’m keeping an eye on Mike and Jean and I also need to find the right moment to gybe.

I’m glad I can soon join you in Les Sables, where the weather is always very nice! I know there will be people to welcome me there, I was lucky enough to be “adopted” by people there, in La Chaume.

I’d like to tell Jean-Pierre Dick I hope he makes it and finishes third because he deserves it, he has a great boat and he had an amazing race…

Arnaud Boissières (FRA, AKENA Vérandas)

Things are going fine right now, we’ve sailed up the Atlantic quite fast, but we still have a lot to do ahead of us. I just hope it won’t take us too long. The past five days have been great, the boat settings were really good, maybe I could have had those settings sooner…

It’s not over since we have crossed the finish line so we all know we need to stay focused until the very end. The last 500 miles can be very difficult, especially with the current conditions. We focus on making it to the finish line so of course, in a way, we do think about the end of the race.

I’m really wondering if there wasn’t something caught in my hull or keel before, because right now the weather conditions are exactly the same but I can feel the boat is doing better and I’m going faster. I hope I didn’t drag something for so long, that would be stupid…

Bertrand de Broc (FRA, Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets)

One of my autopilots didn’t work but I had a spare one that I could use instead, to replace the old one, so I’m fine now.

I have one more day of unfavourable weather ahead of me, and then I will be able to sail faster. But the bad news is the guys ahead of me got the good wind earlier.

I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve crossed the Equator, but I can tell you I did it many times!

Dominique Wavre (SUI, Mirabaud)

Rankings

 

Boat

Skipper

Lat
Long
DTL Course VMG
1
MACIF
François Gabart
36° 21’13” N
28° 24’2” W
0.0 nm
1334.9 nm
23 ° 14.5 nds
12.3 nds
2
Banque Populaire
Armel Le Cléac´h
35° 30’38” N
30° 2’47” W
94.5 nm
1429.4 nm
360 ° 15.7 nds
9.2 nds
3
Virbac Paprec 3
Jean-Pierre Dick
28° 55’27” N
35° 45’21” W
569.4 nm
1904.3 nm
1 ° 10.7 nds
7.3 nds
4
HUGO BOSS
Alex Thomson
27° 20’41” N
37° 12’32” W
690.4 nm
2025.3 nm
5 ° 13.1 nds
9.9 nds
5
SynerCiel
Jean Le Cam
5° 54’5” S
31° 57’60” W
2231.8 nm
3566.7 nm
24 ° 13.4 nds
13.4 nds
6
Gamesa
Mike Golding
6° 19’18” S
31° 54’51” W
2254.3 nm
3589.2 nm
19 ° 14.6 nds
14.5 nds
7
Mirabaud
Dominique Wavre
12° 16’33” S
32° 6’5” W
2594.1 nm
3929.0 nm
356 ° 9.4 nds
8.6 nds
8
AKENA Vérandas
Arnaud Boissières
+1 14° 14’52” S
33° 12’12” W
2727.1 nm
4062.1 nm
61 ° 10.8 nds
8.1 nds
9
ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered
Javier Sansó
-1 15° 44’9” S
28° 28’42” W
2728.4 nm
4063.3 nm
319 ° 8.2 nds
4.4 nds
10
Votre Nom Autour du

Monde avec EDM Projets 
Bertrand de Broc

17° 59’34” S
34° 52’5” W
2971.1 nm
4306.0 nm
13 ° 12.0 nds
11.9 nds
11
Initiatives-coeur
Tanguy De Lamotte
24° 10’15” S
35° 30’18” W
3331.5 nm
4666.4 nm
10 ° 13.8 nds
13.6 nds
12
Team Plastique
Alessandro Di Benedetto
37° 9’32” S
40° 32’15” W
4151.7 nm
5486.6 nm
11 ° 8.6 nds
8.4 nds
PRB
Vincent Riou
Retired
ENERGA
Zbigniew Gutkowski
Retired
Maître CoQ
Jérémie Beyou
Retired
Savéol
Samantha Davies
Retired
Bureau Vallée
Louis Burton
Retired
Groupe Bel
Kito de Pavant
Retired
Safran
Marc Guillemot
Retired
Cheminées Poujoulat
Bernard Stamm
Disqualified

Francois Gabard relentlessly pushing (Photo by FRANCOIS GABARD / MACIF / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

 

Fleet News:

– Sansó on the charge again
– The Last day in the Pacific

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) may not have made any impression on the 263-mile lead of Francois Gabart (Macif) overnight, but he staunched the losses and south of them the other duels ebbed and flowed. Dick-Thomson, Le Cam-Golding and the trio Wavre-Boissières-Sansó are all locked in battle. In the Pacific, De Broc-De Lamotte are living their last day on the largest ocean in the world and gap between the two continues to decrease. They look like forming a new duet as the begin the long climb up the Atlantic, adding a little suspense for the final weeks of the race.

Approaching the latitude of Buenos Aires, Mike Golding (Gamesa) in sixth place, had one of the best nights even though he was only making 12 knots. Ahead of him to the northwest, his arch-rival, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), could only average 8.4. Golding, covering 33 more miles overnight, has now whittled Le Cam’s lead to just over 41 miles. Six days ago Golding was 247 miles behind. Both men are now on the edge of an anticyclone, but Golding has benefitted from staying east.

As the road to the finish shortens, the opportunities to strike back at the leader Francois Gabart (Macif) decline. He continues to set the rhythm and though Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) kept pace overnight as they pass the north of Brazil in temperatures approaching 30 degrees in the shade, he could make no impression on the deficit. Although he only lost 0.1 mile overnight this time.

Le Cléac’h has been the slightly faster in the last hour, but considering that this time yesterday it was thought that Gabart might slow a little, the ranking may be more depressing. In the last 24 hours the advantage is still to Macif 429 miles against 420 for Banque Populaire. It is a situation that is likely to continue at least until the Doldrums.

Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) and Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) have been dropped by Gabart with even more ruthless speed. Dick has lost 300 miles in three days and is 708 miles from the leader, but he managed to dig a little deeper away with Thomson. Hugo Boss is now 132 miles behind – compared to the distance to the finish, but they are at about the same latitude, just north of Rio. Thomson’s easterly route, hugging the coast of Brazil, has won him miles on Dick overall and was tactically the best decision for him, the figures are still brutal; three days he was in third place, just 295 miles behind Gabart, now he is 835 miles behind – 540 miles lost in three days.

Dominique Wavre as the sun sets behind Mirabaud (Photo by Dominique Wavre / Mirabaud / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

The international trio are stuck in a permanent fight on their on their own postage stamp in the South Atlantic. Less than 30 miles separates the Swiss Dominique Wavre, the French Arnaud Boissières and the Spanish Javier Sansó after Sansó, the furthest east, won back 50 miles on Wavre overnight.

The Last Days In the Pacific

With 184 and 335 miles to go to Cape Horn, Bertrand de Broc and Tanguy de Lamotte will have a high voltage day monitoring icebergs and deciding on the best time for last jibe before the rock of Cape Horn. De Broc will also be conscious that he is being hunted. In the last four days De Lamotte has won back 130 miles.

Pending his first Horn, De Lamotte sent an email overnight. “Last day in the Pacific before passing Cape Horn … I passed the longitude of Progresso (Mexico, the finish of the Solidaire du Chocolat that I won in 2009 in Class 40 (Incidentally, the boat is for sale …) and also the longitude of Miami (hello to my cousins ​​…)” The two sailors are in a northwest wind of twenty knots.
Behind them, Alessandro di Benedetto is in a north-northwest wind of 25 knots, 1113 miles from Cape Horn.

Watch web tv Vendée Globe LIVE every day at midday GMT to watch the latest news LIVE from the race track.

 

 

ARMEL LE CLEACH' BANQUE POPULAIRE

Banque Populaire (Photo by ARMEL LE CLEACH' / BANQUE POPULAIRE / DPPI / Vendee Globe)

 

© Tanguy de Lamotte / Initiatives-Coeu

© Tanguy de Lamotte / Initiatives-Coeu

Thomson 6 miles from third place
Duel between Akena and Acciona
Duel between Gabart and Le Cléac’h

Fleet News
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) is reaping the rewards of his choice to ascend the South Atlantic along the coast of Brazil and is gaining ground by every position report. Now only 6 miles separates him and current third place Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3). Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac Paprec 3) has elected to tackle the St Helena High by going upwind in 15-20 knots in conditions not dissimilar to the leading boats. At the equator, in less than a week, their paths should converge at the equator and they could find themselves side by side.
Last night, Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) entered the Atlantic ocean. They began their ascent to the warmer latitudes neck and neck and only a few hundred metres from Staten Island. Arnaud Bossières (Akena Verandas), known as Cali, and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) known as Bubi, rounded Cape Horn, 8th and 9th position. This is a second time for “Cali” and a solo first for “Bubi”. He became the third Spanish sailor in history to race round Cape Horn solo. The first was José Luis Ugarte (1990-91 BOC Challenge and Vendée Globe 1992-1993) and Unai Basurko (Velux 5 Oceans 2006-2007). Bubi, caught sight of Arnaud today. It’s incredible that after two thirds of the race, the boats are sailing within each other’s radar.

With the official abandonment of Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) there remains only 12 boats in the race. The skipper of Cheminées Poujoulat’s pitstopped last night on the island of Horn refuelled, charged his batteries, climbed the mast to change a halyard, and to eat some pork and lentils prepared by the girlfriend of Unaï Bazurko. He is now en route towards the Sables d’Olonne. He still needs to regain strength and affix some repairs to his boat so that he can enjoy his sail back.

Leaders soon will be in the tradewinds
The duel between MACIF and Banque Populaire is now stalled by light airs. Around 13:30 (French time), François Gabart was the first to tack into the wallow of the St. Helena High. He is now sailing on starboard tack in a lightening wind to the northeast and east. As a result, the gap of 85 miles between the two men should now increase.

There are the dueling duos and then there are solitary competitors battling alone. North of the Falklands, Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) is ensconced in fifth position in lighter winds not making as much headway as he would prefer.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) is at 178 miles behind Jean Le Cam, who went to the west of the island group whilst Golding is going east, but he feels he can still reduce that deficit.
“I think he will be struggling a little in a bit and has to come this way. We have a long runway in this breeze. Longer term our weather is reasonably complicated. It is not as bad as for the guys in front. It is good with this lateral separation with Jean, it would certainly be good to get back to 100 miles.

“But overall I’d take more nights like the last one, the boat was going well, under Genoa and then Solent, the tiller was hardly moving at all and that is always a good sign.”
Another 4-8 days in the Southern Ocean
There are still three men in the South. Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM) and Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives Cœur) have passed the last gate of Pacific. The road to the Horn is clear, swept by winds from the west. In three to four days, it will be the Atlantic where he will begin the repairs to his sails.
Finally, Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) for the last three days he has never closed his toolbox. Today, the upper axis of the rudder of Team Plastique broke. The Franco-Italian operated a makeshift repair and will have to do more as soon as the navigation conditions calm down.

Cape Horn Times
François Gabart (MACIF) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 18:20 GMT 52 days 06h 18mn after the race.
Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) rounded Cape Horn on January 1, 2013 at 19:35 GMT 52days 07h 33mn after the race.
Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) rounded Cape Horn January 3 at 4:42 GMT 53 days 16h after 40 minutes
Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) rounded Cape Horn January 4 at 2:38 GMT after 54 days 14h 36 min race.
Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) rounded Cape Horn on January 8 58d 19h after 7:19 GMT 17mn 14s and is running 6 days 12 h 58 m 20 s after MACIF.
Mike Golding (Gamesa) rounded Cape Horn January 9 02h05  GMT after 59 days 14h 03 min race
Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) rounded Cape Horn January 9 10h18 GMT after 59 days 22h 16mn race
Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat) rounded Cape Horn January 9 12h 49 GMT after 60 days 00h 47mn race
Arnaud Boissières (Akena Verandas) rounded Cape Horn January 9 at 21:55 GMT
Javier Sanso (EcoPowered Acciona 100%)rounded Cape Horn on January 10 at 0:52 GMT

Watch web tv Vendée Globe LIVE every day at midday GMT to watch the latest news LIVE from the race track.

4:00 P.M. (French Time)

1 – François Gabart
[ Macif ]
4 869.3 miles to the finish

2 – Armel Le Cleac’h
[ Banque Populaire ]
+ 82.4 miles to leader

3 – Jean-Pierre Dick
[ Virbac Paprec 3 ]
+ 351 miles to leader

4 – Alex Thomson
[ Hugo Boss ]
+ 357.4 miles to leader

5 – Jean Le Cam
[ SynerCiel ]
+ 1 550.3 miles to leader

 

I didn’t take the time to sleep already. I’ll do so when I’ll be moving forward. Now that we have diesel oil it’s fine. I took advantage of Unaï’s presence to climb on the mast and make some control. Then Unaï’s girlfriend made me a nice meal with some fruits. It was like a rebirth.

At the moment, I am not at 100% of my ability. The conditions are very unstable and I had to be very careful because of the ice. It was difficult to move in the wind. I was able to rest only a few hours ago. Now I’ll try to take the boat back to Les Sables d’Olonne and keep on going with my sailing.
I’ll try to enjoy the moment even if I’m disappointed. You cannot win this race with the problems I had.
Bernard Stamm (SUI, Cheminées Poujoulat)
As an athlete I’m following the race. I am very impressed. It’s a wonderful edition and an awesome race. I’m happy François is doing well because I know he is a kayaker. It’s very impressive to see three guys going at sea for three months. You need to be focused all the time and I think it’s the most difficult thing to do.
These are very long-term projects that you prepared for 4 years. It’s a bit unfair when it ends badly because it is four years of work. But it is also the magic of our sports.
Tony Estanguet (Triple Olympic champion)

I’m quite fine. It’s really beautiful out here and I have a Spanish guy under my wind. After the Cape Horn, he has roughly taken the same route as me. So, since the weather is great, I’m been able to see my little Spanish chorizo…

After the Cape Horn, I met a cruise ship. It called me because it knew who I was. It asked me if I was fine, if I had everything onboard because on the ship, they have a swimming pool and everything… But I feel much more comfortable on my boat.
Before the departure, we knew everyone’s objectives. With our software, we manage to establish strategies even though it is not always reliable. We must always be focused on our strategies and keep on going with them.
Arnaud Boissières (FRA, Akena Veranda)

The wind is getting smoother now after an intense night. We are getting closer to the transfer point. According to the software, my journey will be quite similar with the leaders’ one. Alex is taking a great option and everything must be reconsidered.
My strategy was good but, because of my little problem, I’m not in the right timing anymore. But it’s interesting; it’s going to be a great fight.
I must remain rigorous. First of all you need to have a global view of the situation and the strategies. Then you try to do everything to sail as fast as possible. And you also have to take some time to sleep and eat.

Jean-Pierre Dick (FRA, Virbac Paprec 3)

Alex Thomson near Cape Horn (Photo by Alex Thomson / Hugo Boss / Vendée Globe Race )

British solo skipper Alex Thomson had less than 200 miles to make to Cape Horn at 1500hrs UTC this afternoon and should pass the legendary rock in the early hours of Friday morning lying in fourth place in the Vendée Globe solo round the world race.

 

 

Though the skipper of Hugo Boss still has more than one quarter of the course to complete, and the ice strewn passage of the Cape in itself holds considerable danger through the next 24 hours, a successful release from the Pacific Ocean and into the Atlantic will also release many of the demons of past disappointments.

Two failed previous Vendée Globe races and one solo Velux 5 Oceans – when he had to abandon his IMOCA Open 60 in the Indian Ocean – mean that this will be his first Cape Horn alone. That he is in an excellent fourth place in an older generation of design, still in touch with the podium whilst managing an acute on board power shortage is already an enduring endorsement of his skills as a solo sailor.  Thomson has been in power saving mode since he broke a hydrogenerator on December 11th, but plans to speak to Vendée Globe LIVE after his passage.

 

“It will mean a huge amount to Alex tonight. Don’t get me wrong we have not finished yet, but in itself he has got further solo than ever before and passing Cape Horn successfully in fourth will the culmination of 15 years of hard work on his part. This is the last big milestone before the finish and it has been a great race that Alex has sailed. He has worked so hard, as have the whole team over the years, so he deserves this. He has put up with a lot of criticism, negative feelings and back biting over the years, and Alex has thicker skin than most people, but for sure that has hurt him.”

“It has been like in any sport when there is a pressure on a tennis player, a driver or a golfer to perform but Alex will be pleased to have got this far and done so well.”

“Not many skippers will have worked harder. He has done four Transatlantics in six months including setting a new record.”  Comments Stewart Hosford, CEO at Alex Thomson Racing.

Dick gets the full Cape Horn experience
Third into the Atlantic after passing Cape Horn at 0442hrs this morning, Jean-Pierre Dick’s fourth time round the Horn ranked as probably his most difficult. In the pitch black with the ever present threat of ice, with big confused seas which he described as ‘crazy’ and a gusty wind, “….the boat was shaking in every direction.” Said JP on Vendée Globe LIVE this morning, still sounding tired and anxious. “It was a Cape Horn which I passed ‘virtually’ because I was a way off and could see nothing. It was not much of a celebration.”

After François Gabart (Macif) and Armel Le Cléach (Banque Populaire) breached Cape Horn on January 1st there are now three skippers in the Atlantic. The two leaders have been sailing quickly in NW’ ly winds of 25kts. The ascent towards the coast of Brazil will offer a range of opportunties for gains and losses, with a small succession of depressions spinning off the South American coast challenging a substantial dominant high pressure which will more or less block the leaders path.

JP Dick, 337 miles behind the leaders, remains confident he can keep catching Gabart and Le Cléac’h.

 

Buses at Cape Horn?
Cape Horn may be one of the most isolated landmarks on the planet but it will see IMOCA Open 60’s of the Vendée Globe passing like buses over the next two weeks. Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) should pass on Sunday morning, Mike Golding on Gamesa expects to pass late Monday and could have Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud), Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered) and Arnaud Boissières (Akéna Verandas)  following closely behind. Compression in to Cape Horn is a normal feature, but one weather routing study has the five boats passing hours rather than days apart. Today less than 300 miles separates sixth Golding from Boissières.

Key to the recent gains have been stronger winds arriving from astern. Dominique Wavre reported today that he is still feeling the effects of a battle with his gennaker .

Behind them the contrast between the fortunes of eleventh placed Bertrand De Broc and twelfth positioned Tanguy De Lamotte are very different. De Broc is set to struggle with a huge high positioned over the next gate, whilst De Lamotte has had 45 knots making life on board Initiatives Coeur.

Bernard Stamm, disqualified yesterday for receiving outside assistance, still holds a hope of a final ranking after submitting a request to have his case reopened.

BERNARD STAMM (Photo by Bernard Stamm / CHEMINEES POUJOULAT / Vendee Globe Race)

Tanguy de Lamotte (Photo courtesy Vendée Globe Race)

For richer or poorer, nothing changes between Le Cléac’h and Gabart
Two choices imminent
Is Isolation splendid?
After being forced to virtually stop off the island of Tenerife to repair the top of his damaged mainsail track just one week into his Vendée Globe, Spain’s Javier Sanso spent most of the following four weeks at sea trying to catch up.
Left behind in successive waves of high pressure and light winds, the skipper of Acciona 100% Eco Powered was more than 600 miles behind Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding when he passed the Cape of Good Hope but bowed to his task in the Indian Ocean. By the time his Swiss counterpart was passing Cape Leeuwin, West Australia, Sanso was snapping at the heels of the middle pack, 100 miles behind.

…..we have a problem, V2.0
Now Sanso faces another mast climb after discovering this morning that his mainsail track is, he believes, damaged again. He reported to Vendée Globe LIVE today that he can move the mainsail headboard car but it will not go up to full hoist. So he must sail temporarily with one reef and will wait for first light Wednesday morning (local) to make the climb and try to make a repair.
“It is stuck at the first reef and so I have to go up the mast again.” Sanso explained, “ I can lower the sail if I need to, but I cannot hoist it to full main. Something is stuck up there. Hopefully it is not the track again, so I don’t know. I will have to go up tomorrow and check. It was starting to get dark last night when I realised there was a problem, and then this morning when I was going to go for full main with the wind down to 20-21kts I could not get it up to full main. It would go up but it would slide. There is a problem up there.”
The problems facing Bernard Stamm continue. The Swiss skipper’s arrival at Kaikai Beach by Dunedin, NZ  quickly became a local talking point for Boxing Day visitors to the local beauty spot and surfing location and the beleaguered Vendée Globe soloist’s anchorage was covered on television by TVNZ, but as yet there is no clear news about how Stamm is faring with his attempts to restore his two hydrogenerators to working order.

Great minds think alike?
There is no change in the strategic thinking which is clearly shared between the two leaders.
Armel Le Cléac’h and François Gabart as they start to deal with a developing trough of confused light winds. The leading pair have two alternative routes, north or south, to avoid the worst of the sticky situation but so far both remain locked side by side following the same course. The northern route offers a more surefire guarantee of wind but means more miles sailed, whilst the south is more direct but with a greater risk. The overall difference, according to the routing software, is a matter of hours at Cape Horn where they are expected to reach some time on January 1st.
«There are not likely to do anything different to one another at the moment. Not only do they have the same boat, the same set ups and train together at Port La Fôret but they will have almost the same weather information run through identical or near identical routing software and so, not only is it not a surprise they stay so close together, but I dont see them doing anything very different right now. » observed Alain Gautier, the Vendée Globe’s safety adviser who finished second in the second edition of the race.
Le Cléac’h has held on to his slender lead over Gabart– around 10 miles this afternoon – as they make a robust 18-19kts. But the worst of the light winds seem set to affect them as they deal with final gate of the course, Pacific East, which is 750 miles in front of them.
The patience of Jean-Pierre Dick has been sorely tested over the last 24 hours as he struggles with a ridge of high pressure that has snared him in lighter winds since Christmas Day. Virbac-Paprec 3 has made 200 miles less than Banque Populaire and has rarely crept into double figures but the medium to long term outlook is still favourable for a catch up for Dick who remains very positive.

Profiting from adversity
At 45 days into the Vendée Globe the skippers are very well aware of what represents their comfort zone, and where the limits are. Mike Golding is one skipper who was prepared to push his boundaries last night in very gusty, squally conditions to try and pull back some lost miles of Jean Le Cam.
“The squalls were up to 40kts at times but were relatively short lived and so you just had to hang on. It was a bit fruity at times, but in the end you cannot set the sails only for what you get in the big squalls otherwise you are just underpowered the rest of the time.” Recalled Golding.

The British skipper and counterpart Dominique Wavre have now profited from Stamm’s Dunedin halt, rising to sixth and seventh today.

When solo means solo
But many of the skippers must look at the two leaders with envy, not just for the sizeable lead they have built but seeing what having a boat nearby to pace yourself against represents as a real advantage in terms of measuring and modulating performance.
There are now many who really are racing solo, without any means of judging how they are doing. Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) is some 650 miles back from the two frontrunners with Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) 300 miles behind him. The British sailor on Hugo Boss has a lead of almost 900 miles over Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel), who is continuing on his way 400 miles ahead of the only trio remaining close together comprising Mike Golding (Gamesa), Dominique Wavre (Mirabaud) and Javier Sanso (Acciona 100% EcoPowered).
Further back, Arnaud Boissières (Akena Vérandas) is still 400 miles from Bubi Sanso, which is around the same distance that separates Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM Projets) from Tanguy de Lamotte (Initiatives-cœur).
Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique) is not worried about that sort of problem. Sailing 4800 miles from the leaders is not that big a deal for someone, who has already sailed non-stop solo around the world on a 6.50m Mini taking 268 days.

 

 
 
  THEY SAID…  
  
I’m watching to see what happens with Bernard Stamm. He is going to a lot of effort to get things sorted, so he must feel he has a good chance of doing so. And he will come out with a lot of fire in his belly. With that boat he will always be threat, though if we can get to the Atlantic ahead then I’d like to think we’d have a good chance.”
“It is interesting to see the talk of the leaders finishing in under 80 days. It is fast and even here it feels fast. I was looking at it and if I can be at Cape Horn in ten days then that is pretty fast. And there can be some serious compression in the Atlantic. If the leaders get around into headwinds and we are approaching from the west at speed, that could be good. But it does feel fast. It feels like I am just starting to get used to being down here and it will be time to go north again. But in saying that I can’t wait for Cape Horn. 
Mike Golding, GBR, Gamesa
Hello. The sun is rising. The wind is easier now. I can rest a little, because the last hours were very tough Last minutes of rest before going back to work. There are different routes, so I have to make my choice. I keep on going with my strategy; we’ll see how it goes. I feel like you guys are more worried than me. François and I are basically taking the same course. I have my route planned, so I’m not stressed. 
Armel le Cléac’h FRA, (Banque Populaire)

 This morning I found out I had a problem with the headboard car again. It was stuck at the first reef and so I have to go up the mast again. I can lower the main if I need to, but I cannot hoist it to full main. Something is stuck up there. Hopefully it is not the track again, so I don’t know. I will have to go up tomorrow and check. It was starting to get dark when I realised there was a problem, and then this morning when I was going to go for full main with the wind down to 20-21kts I could not get it up to full main. It would go up but it would slide. There is a problem up there.
I am trying to push as hard as I can, but feel compromised. Tomorrow I will try before the sun comes up, so we will see. The weather is on my side. The boat should be stable and on a good course. It should be easier than the last time. Last time I had to be fully stopped with no main. I cant really see what the problem is, but hopefully there is not a problem with the track. I hope the piece of track is still on the past.

Javier Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered  
 
 
 
 
 
 Rankings as of 12/27/2012

      Lat n Long  Dist to Leader   
Armel Le Cléac´h 1
Banque Populaire
Armel Le Cléac´h
  54° 31’37” S
122° 4’43” O
0.0 nm
8967.5 nm
138 ° 10.2 nds
4.7 nds
François Gabart 2
MACIF
François Gabart
  54° 27’54” S
122° 31’10” O
14.0 nm
8981.5 nm
143 ° 10.7 nds
4.3 nds
Jean-Pierre Dick 3
Virbac Paprec 3
Jean-Pierre Dick
  49° 21’33” S
137° 2’20” O
575.4 nm
9542.9 nm
104 ° 19.3 nds
19.2 nds
Alex Thomson 4
HUGO BOSS
Alex Thomson
  50° 14’38” S
146° 7’19” O
941.3 nm
9908.7 nm
70 ° 18.0 nds
18.0 nds
Jean Le Cam 5
SynerCiel
Jean Le Cam
  49° 34’60” S
172° 12’11” O
1935.4 nm
10902.8 nm
92 ° 13.8 nds
13.7 nds
Mike Golding 6
Gamesa
Mike Golding
  52° 31’16” S
178° 1’21” E
2282.5 nm
11249.9 nm
99 ° 14.8 nds
14.6 nds
Dominique Wavre 7
Mirabaud
Dominique Wavre
  53° 40’3” S
176° 42’58” E
2333.0 nm
11300.5 nm
100 ° 13.3 nds
12.7 nds
Bernard  Stamm 8
Cheminées Poujoulat
Bernard Stamm
  45° 52’48” S
170° 42’31” E
2657.5 nm
11625.0 nm
145 ° 0.0 nds
0.0 nds
Javier Sansó 9
ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered
Javier Sansó
  51° 12’54” S
167° 58’17” E
2658.1 nm
11625.6 nm
85 ° 11.9 nds
11.4 nds
Arnaud Boissières 10
AKENA Vérandas
Arnaud Boissières
  53° 15’6” S
159° 19’45” E
2953.0 nm
11920.4 nm
89 ° 16.6 nds
16.4 nds
Bertrand de Broc 11
Votre Nom Autour du Monde avec EDM Projets
Bertrand de Broc
  48° 51’38” S
144° 7’0” E
3576.3 nm
12543.8 nm
61 ° 11.7 nds
7.1 nds
Tanguy De Lamotte 12
Initiatives-coeur
Tanguy De Lamotte
  49° 47’42” S
133° 54’22” E
3919.0 nm
12886.5 nm
100 ° 14.4 nds
14.4 nds
Alessandro  Di Benedetto 13
Team Plastique
Alessandro Di Benedetto
  47° 29’59” S
114° 15’47” E
4706.9 nm
13674.3 nm
136 ° 12.0 nds
10.6 nds
Vincent Riou
PRB
Vincent Riou
Retired
Zbigniew Gutkowski
ENERGA
Zbigniew Gutkowski
Retired
Jérémie Beyou
Maître CoQ
Jérémie Beyou
Retired
Samantha Davies
Savéol
Samantha Davies
Retired
Louis Burton
Bureau Vallée
Louis Burton
Retired
Kito de Pavant
Groupe Bel
Kito de Pavant
Retired
Marc Guillemot
Safran
Marc Guillemot
Retired

             

No More Mast (Photo by Samantha Davies)

  • Javier Sansó heads to the Canary Islands with mainsail down
  • Sam Davies and Louis Burton abandons
  • Cléac’h hunts down Gabard
  • England 2 France 0

News Flash:

Javier Sansó reports that he has been sailing for 32 hours without his mainsail. He was approaching the Canary Islands yesterday afternoon, where he will shelter in calmer conditions while he climbs up his 100ft mast to recover the main halyard. It is a hazardous operation even with a crew and even in calmer waters – imagine climbing a hundred foot ladder balanced on a rocking horse (don’t try this at home).

“Today has been pretty entertaining preparing all the material to go up the mast tomorrow in the shelter of the Canary Islands,” Sansó, the only Spaniard in the race, said. “I just need some sheltered water without waves for a few hours and I think I’ll be back again 100%. I’ve been able to sleep a full 2 hours – a real luxury!“

Black Friday: And then they were 16

Sam Davies is safe but out of the race after dismasting on Thursday night. She has switched on her engine and is heading to Madeira, 100 miles away, at about five knots. The weather is being kinder her and she was expected arrive on Saturday morning. She will be met there by Romain Attanasio, her partner and Erwan Lemeilleur, Savéol’s boat captain, who are arriving on Friday night. Davies will soon be back with her 13-month-old son, Ruben, but must have wished it would be under different circumstances and at least 74 days later.

She was near the centre of a depression with a 35 knots of wind and treacherous cross seas and was preparing to put a third reef in the mainsail, when she heard and felt the mast go.

“It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea,” Davies said. “I was getting ready to my foul weather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping and the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact.
“I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat, so I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced.”

Davies, who finished fourth in the last Vendée Globe, waited until the wind had eased before cutting away the mast and rigging and with them any chance of finishing her second Vendée Globe.

There were words of support for her throughout the fleet including her two fellow Britons. “I feel so sorry for Sam,” Mike Golding (Gamesa) said. “Is she ok? She was right in the worst of it at the wrong time. A great shame for her and the race.”
“Really sad news regarding Sam’s dismasting last night,” Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) said. “I’m glad that she’s safe and well, but it’s a sobering reminder of how vigilant I have to be.”
Soon after Davies abandoned, Louis Burton, the 27-year-old Parisian, announced that he had abandoned and headed to La Coruña. He was limping back to Les Sables d’Olonne stuck on a starboard tack after colliding with a fishing boat on Wednesday at 0300hrs (French time). But the damage to the port shroud of his boat, Bureau Vallée, and consequent instability of his mast, meant that his passage through the Bay of Biscay with the current conditions would have been nearly impossible – especially with the deadline of needing to re-start the race by Tuesday November 20.

 Fleet News:

Armel Le Cléac’h (Banque Populaire) aka The Jackal, took the lead from the Francois ‘the Golden Boy’ Gabard (Macif) at 2300hrs (French time) on Thursday. The lead boat are heading due south and are 400 miles away from Cape Verde. By the 1600hrs ranking, Le Cléac’h the favourite, had stretched his lead to 20 miles over Gabard and the whole lead group. Gabard, who had led since the night of the start on Saturday, successfully re-positioned west and held off Bernard Stamm (Cheminées Poujoulat), who was a further four miles behind.

Earlier England had scored two small victories, with Alex Thomson (Hugo Boss) first shaking off Jérémie Beyou (Maître CoQ) and then passing Vincent Riou (Riou) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) to move into fourth and close on the top three.

Further east, Mike Golding (Gamesa) gave Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) a small haircut in their continuing match and led him by 12 miles. England 2 – 0 France.

But not for long. As the 10-12 knot winds veered from North to North-east, Dick and Riou struck back and passed Thomson.

Riou, gybing east but still the furthest west, at last found more wind than the others and had the best speed of 13.8 knots amongst the lead boats. The eleven skippers at the front of the front of the fleet have been enjoying much less aggressive conditions than cross seas and squalls that battered Davies out of the race.

 

 
  THEY SAID… 
 
 
 
It was quite difficult conditions because I had just gone through the cold front and I had a really cross sea and to start with not much wind and the wind was just starting to establish itself around 25-30 knots and I had the right sails up for those conditions and it had been pretty tricky and then, as I was expecting, we had some big rain squalls coming and the first rain squall came through and I had up to 40 knots, so I bore away and I was easing the sheets from inside the boat and easing the sheets and bearing away to calm it down. I was mentally preparing myself, as soon as the squalls had finished to go out and take the third reef for the night, because it was at nightfall when this was going on. And that is the way I had been sailing for the whole race, is quite conservatively and taking a reef, especially at night when you can’t see the squalls coming, so I was getting ready to my foul weather gear on and that’s when the squall was just finishing and the wind was dropping and the boat jumped off the top of the top of a wave and that’s when I had the impact and then the boat came upright and suddenly there is no more wind in your rigging. The hard thing is that when the mast falls down, it falls to leeward so the boat is being pushed on top of the mast so I could hear the mast rubbing against the hull and down the whole side of the hull and under the boat, so I knew that it could damage the hull if I was unlucky, so the main thing was to close all the watertight bulkheads in case it did get pierced so I put my survival suit on because it is the best way to go out and check everything on deck and in the time that this happened and the boat turned around, as I expected it would, so that the mast was to windward of the boat and acting more like a sea anchor but the worst thing was the really big waves and breaking wave and they were pushing the mast and boom into the deck and into the hull still and everything was moving a lot, like around 2m, and there was still a lot of wind in the mainsail attached to the boom, so every time there was a big gust the boom was lifting off the deck and into the water. To start with I didn’t want to go outside in case the boom got caught by the wind or in case there was a big jump, so I wanted to wait to see how the whole situation as going to establish itself before I took any chances to go on deck.

Sam Davies, Savéol, GBR
Really sad news regarding Sam’s dismasting last night, I’m glad that she’s safe and well, but it’s a sobering reminder of how vigilant I have to be! I’m feeling a bit more tired again today. A combination of not enough wind, and changing wind conditions all night made it difficult to get any rest as I was switching between several sails all night. I felt as though I had slowed down a lot compared to the pack, and was sure I would have lost 4th position this morning so it was a good boost this morning to see that I had held onto the position over-night, everyone else must have had a slow tough night too. After the speed of yesterday (which included some of the clearest rainbow’s I’ve ever seen) today will probably be a slower day, but the trade winds are starting to establish themselves. While things are a little calmer and the conditions are much lighter I will take the opportunity to do some checks both up on deck and down below today.

Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss, GBR
  When Sam called us during the night it was horrible. With the support of the technical team, she was able to secure the situation and put herself away; waiting to work on the rig to release the boat at night and prevent it from damaging the hull. Her composure allowed her to keep Savéol afloat without taking undue risks.

Xavier David, team manager of Savéol
Greetings from ACCIONA 100% EcoPowered. Today has been pretty entertaining preparing all the material to go up the mast tomorrow in the shelter of the Canary Islands. I just need some sheltered water without waves for a few hours and I think I’ll be back again 100%. I’ve been able to sleep a full 2 hours… a real luxury!
The weather here is more similar to the South Indian Ocean than the north of the Canaries but well, that’s what we have. The energy generator systems are working perfectly in spite of the harsh weather conditions. I’m sailing just with a foresail and it’s a little strange to see this red and white bird with just one wing. But she’ll soon be able to spread both wings again. It’s just a question of a little more time and we can get back sailing again with full performance. Best wishes from Acciona 100% EcoPowered.

Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered

Since the beginning, we have been pretty close with Bernard (Stamm) and with François (Gabart) a little before us. Last night, he (Gabart) fell into an area with less wind, we were able to get closer and I managed to pass him. I’m following the best route, I take care of the boat, it is a pleasure. This is the first time I have been at the head of a Vendée Globe so it is a pleasure for me and the entire team who worked on the boat. Now the road is very long and my peers are not far behind. Yesterday, I met a catamaran, who asked me if the conditions were good. That was nice.

Armel Le Cléac’h, Banque Populaire, FRA
I feel so sorry for Sam [Davies who was dismasted last night on Saveol, but is safe and unhurt]. Is she ok? She was right in the worst of it at the wrong time. A great shame for her and the race.” “We are in the Doldrums, well not exactly, but it feels like it. There have been some big wind shifts, bit changes in wind strength and I have a line of rain coming towards me now, I am not sure what it is bringing me. The good thing I suppose is that I have never stopped, but I did end up spending a couple of hours going upwind. I have had to cross the trough somewhere and so it is a little narrower here, but I would prefer to be over where the others are. The files showed the breeze should have been lifting me and so to have ended up upwind is a bit frustrating. I had a little problem with the halyards earlier when I put the genoa up and it did not go in the lock properly so I got a bit of a rope burn on my hands. It seems like my course has been a series of steps, like a sawtooth really but that is just what I have had. I’m going to try to hook to the west as the day goes on but I think I’ll be in this light stuff for most of the day.

Mike Golding, Gamesa, GBR

 

 

Ranking at 1600 (French time) 16/11/2012
1 Banque Populaire, Armel Le Cléac’h, 22,368.9 miles to the finish
2 Macif, François Gabart, 22572.7 miles to finish FRA, +20.8 miles to leader 3 Cheminées Poujoulat, Berrnard Stamm, SUI, +24.3 miles to leader 4 Jean-Pierre Dick +81.8 miles to leader 5 PRB, Vincent Riou, FRA +88.9 miles to leader
Other International: 6 Alex Thomson, Hugo Boss +93 miles to leader
8 Mike Golding, Gamesa, GBR, 128.9 miles to the leader
10 Dominique Wavre, Mirabaud,SUI +161.7 miles to leader 11 Javier Sanso, Acciona 100% Eco Powered, ESP, +358.7 miles to leader 15 Zbigniew Gutkowski, Energa, POL, +616.4 miles to leader
17 Alessandro Di Benedetto,Team Plastique, ITA, +709.3 miles to leader

Groupe Bel damage from collision that forced abandonment of the race by Kito de Pavant (Photo by Groupe Bel / Kito de Pavant)

 
• Kito De Pavant is second abandonment of the Vendée Globe

• Le Cléac’h up to second

• Competition and duels through the fleet

• First strategic choices of the race


“I am cursed. The Vendée Globe is not for me.” That was the conclusion of the bitterly disappointed Kito de Pavant this Monday afternoon, despairing at the harsh reality that his challenge to complete the Vendée Globe is, again, very prematurely over.

For the second successive edition of the race this charismatic, twinkle eyed skipper from Port Camargue in the Mediterranean is having to withdraw.

His Groupe Bel suffered serious damage when he was hit by a fishing trawler whilst racing in 11th place, around 45 miles off the Portuguese coast about 75 miles NW of Cascais at around 1000hrs CET this morning.

De Pavant described it as a ‘stupid accident’ grabbing some minutes of sleep when he was awoken by a bang. With damage to Groupe Bel’s outrigger – the deck spreader which supports the rig – losing his bowsprit and sustaining a hole in the hull and deck he announced his retirement this afternoon.

The Groupe Bel skipper’s second attempt at the Vendée Globe effectively ended a little more than 68 hours after the start, a cruel reprise after he lost his mast within 24 hours of the start of the 2008-9 race.

He is unhurt and was making to Cascais where he was expected to arrive this Tuesday evening.

“ All of that energy spent over months and years to prepare, all this is terrible. There is no bowsprit, there is a hole in the front of the hull but the boat itself is safe.To leave the Vendée Globe again, after just two days of racing, is not even possible, not even possible.” De Pavant told his team this afternoon.

A snapshot of life’s extremes
This Monday, two full days into the race, has been nothing more than a snapshot of life through the fleet. The huge disappointment of De Pavant, the second skipper of 20 starters to abandon, is contrasted sharply with the simple joie de vie of both Sam Davies and Tanguy de Lamotte aboard their respective IMOCA Open 60’s in 15th and 16th places. (Neither had heard the news of De Pavant)

Davies was positively singing in her daily video report from Savéol and Lamotte’s pleasure at being well settled on his evergreen Initiatives Couer into his dream race which he had previously worked as shore support crew for Ellen MacArthur and Nick Moloney.

While the relative distances between the groups are opening still more through the fleet, so too the private duels and races within the races are starting to take shape.

At the top of the standings since Saturday night François Gabart has extended again with his VPLP Verdier Macif with his regular ‘running mate’ Armel Le Cléac’h now up to second on the near identical sistership Banque Populaire. The closely matched duo raced cheek by jowl all the way across the Atlantic in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre with Le Cléac’h finishing less than two hours ahead after 16 days of racing.

Gabart leads by 13 miles this afternoon, gaining nine miles over the course of today. The three leading boats, Macif, Banque Populaire and PRB were separated laterally by about 52 miles as they slanted south west.

Into the pack Arnaud Boissières on eleventh placed Akena Vérandas was happy to be duelling with Louis Burton on Bureau Valley. On similar Owen –Clark designs Javier ‘Bubi’ Sanso was less than a mile behind Mike Golding, though the British skipper had passed Jean Le Cam to gain eighth place this afternoon. And speaking to the radio vacs this afternoon Polish skipper Zbigniew Gutkowski confirmed tha,t even though his Energa was in light winds and well to the back of the fleet, he was taking on De Lamotte who was just a handful of miles ahead in terms of distance to the finish.

With a low pressure system building to the NW of the fleet the options to get west and use it and to avoid a roadblock of light, unsettled winds between the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands are being taken through the middle of the fleet. This first strategic choice of the race so far may reshape upper middle order.

THEY SAID…

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At 1500hrs UTC Monday 12 November 2012

1 – François Gabart, FRA
[ Macif ]
23313 nms to finish
2 – Armel Le Cléac’h, FRA
[ Banque Populaire ]
+8.1 miles to leader

3 – Vincent Riou, FRA
[ PRB ]
+ 16.9 miles to leader

4 – Bernard Stamm, SUI
[ Cheminées Poujoulat ]
+29.9 miles to leader

5 -Jean-Pierre Dick, FRA
[ Virbac-Paprec 3 ]
+34.9 miles to leader

> FULL RANKING

I am very happy with the beginning of the race, even though the start isn’t the most important bit. There has been quite a lot of wind and waves, but it should get calmer later today. I am not too tired. I had some good sleep, it was so dark so it wasn’t really worth staying at the helm, the autopilot was on. And so I feel well rested.
I’ll stay in this north northwest wind for a few hours and then I’ll see what to do.
I was expecting more traffic, there were still a lot of cargo ships at Cape Finisterre.
I really do enjoy being the leader, I have good feelings on MACIF.
I am currently at 22 knots, but that is irregular, dropping back to 15kts at times.

François Gabart, FRA, Macif

Right now we have light winds. There are two different sets of GRIB files but they both tell me I have to go west. It is not possible for me to go south like the others. I have to go west and find the low pressure. I’ll get past the centre of the low pressure and then be able to go directly south. There is no chance for me to go directly with the fleet. Right now I have had good sleep and have been eating well. I got two hours because it is really light conditions. And the wind direction is stable. And so it is good for me and it has given the boat a rest and I have been able to check over everything. For me the boat is quite new, so I have to learn a little bit more and don’t want to make a maximum risk going at the same speed as the others. I just want to keep going and be looking to the future. Right now the winds are light but I find I go better when there is more wind.

Zbigniew Gutkowski, POL, Energa

Right now we are getting south at a good pace. The weather is looking a little bit tricky over the next 24 hours, I am in the middle with some good boats and so I am happy so far. I started pretty well and then I took the wrong decision to go a little bit south. But now I am here with everybody and so it is good.

Javier Sanso, ESP, Acciona 100% Eco Powered

I heard guys shouting but it was too late. I jumped on deck trying to save the rig. At least we managed that much. It is important the rig does not come down, so we saved that at least, but – hey – it is not much good. I am not angry at the fisherman but at me because it should not have happened. You can’t anticipate this happening, but I went down at just the wrong time. Of course there is always the risk of a collision when you are solo, with cargos, with fishermen. It can happen off Portugal, Senegal, Cape Verde or off Brazil. Everywhere. The boat is very damaged. All of that energy spent over months and years to prepare, all this is terrible. There is no bowsprit, there is a hole in the front of the hull but the boat itself is safe. There are no problems. I have secured the rig. There are between 17 and 18 kts of wind. I’m on a direct course for Cascais. I expect to be in by night. After that we’ll think what to do. To leave the Vendée Globe again, after just two days of racing, is not even possible, not even possible.

Kito de Pavant, FRA, Groupe Bel

 

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers

2012 Vendée Globe Skippers last press conference before race start. (Photo courtesy of 2012 Vendee Globe Race)

• 20 skippers line up in the press conference room
• The magic continues in the Les Sables d’Olonne sunshine
• British skippers relaxed and ready

 

With an audience of more than 200 media, Bruno Retailleau, the President of the Vendée General Council, accompanied by Louis Guédon, the mayor of Les Sables d’Olonne, Patricia Brochard the Co-President of the Sodebo and Denis Horeau, Vendée Globe race director presented the 20 skippers who will take part in the imminent Vendée Globe.

Highlighting how the Vendée Globe race has remained true to its core values, Retailleau emphasized the universally high level of the entries for this edition. “Getting 20 entries on the start line is an unexpected result” He said.
Denis Horeau, Race Director, praised the high quality of the entries, how well prepared the boats are and the professionalism of the teams involved in this 2012-13 edition.
The Mayor Les Sables d’Olonne recalled some of the history of the race while Patricia Brochard of Sodebo praised the entrepreneurship and enterprise which is inherent in each of the IMOCA Open 60 campaigns.

After the formalities the skippers spoke in turn, at once humorous, relaxed and insightful, an uplifting atmosphere before they join each other on the start line on Saturday 13h02 hrs.

The magic continues…..

The Vendée Globe magic continues. As the countdown continues to Saturday’s start of the solo round the world race each new day brings bigger and bigger crowds to Les Sables d’Olonne, to the pontoons where the 20 IMOCA Open 60’s are primed, ready for the emotional dock out. Teams are still refining the small details on board, adding the little luxuries and comforters which can lift the skipper’s mood when times are hard. But at three days before the start the tension is now palpable as the start gun beckons.

There are many skippers who have enjoyed the unique ambiance of the final countdown in Les Sables d’Olonne before. Bertrand de Broc (Votre Nom autour du Monde avec EDM) was here in 1992 and 1996 and says the passion for ocean racing is still the same. So, also, confirm Dominique Wavre and Mike Golding who are both back for the fourth time. The visitors come from all over Europe. Les Sablais strain at the guardrails on the pontoons to see their local heroes Arnaud Boissières, past winner Vincent Riou and the Italian skipper Alessandro di Benedetto who has adopted Les Sables d’Olonne as his home. There may be favourite solo sailors among the crowds which have queued sometimes for more than one hour to make their pass down the pontoons, but each skipper is offered the same universal respect.

“What is unique about the Vendée Globe is seeing three generations of a family all there to pay respect to the skippers whoever they are and the very strong relationship between the skippers and the public. It surpassed competition. They realise the dangers the skippers face and the fragility of their world. That is the strength of the Vendée Globe.” Said Bruno Retailleau, President of the Vendée Council.

But, for all that, there is also the simple, enjoyable sport of spotting and chasing down skippers for autographs, collecting posters and enjoying the massive Vendée Globe race village which for the last two days has been bathed in warm sunshine.

For the ocean racing cognoscenti the heroes of the sport are widely accessible. Vincent Riou (PRB) and Jean-Pierre Dick (Virbac-Paprec 3) have been on their boats regularly. The poster boys, Vendée Globe rookies Louis Burton (Bureau Valley) and François Gabart (Macif) set female hearts aflutter, while the characters who have engaged the race audience in the past, like Jean Le Cam (SynerCiel) and the race’s only female Samantha Davies (Saveol) who illuminated the 2008-9 race with her effervescent joie de vie, her tenacious spirit and her astute sailing. And the likes of Kito de Pavant appeals to all ages, the laughing cow entertaining the kids, whilst travails of the sanguine skipper from the south of France are well known, not least his heart breaking retirement from the last race, breaking his mast less than 36 hours in.

The British skippers have been impressively relaxed. He had to battle to make the start line last time after his Hugo Boss was hit by a fishing boat on its arrival in Les Sables d’Olonne but at today’s press conference Alex Thomson joked:

“This is my third Vendée Globe and it is the first time I have been ready. The last time I was in Les Sables d’Olonne it was less enjoyable. This has been great fun this time. But we sit up here and take all the glory and go on the boat, but I need to say thank you to my team. If I can put in 50% of the effort they have done then I will get to the finish this time.”

Mike Golding (Gamesa) is more relaxed than he as ever been, now just wanting to get out on to the race course:

“When you’re here the first time you’re full of excitement for the unknown. When you come the second time you’re full of anticipation of what you’re going to achieve and now it’s becoming even more enjoyable as it’s getting closer. The wait to get to the start of the Vendée is very long and when you’ve done it three previous times it’s even longer, sometimes you just want to get on with it. But for all that my motivation is improving not waning.”

Bruno Retailleau: “The Vendée Globe has taken on a more popular dimension in the village. What has impressed me is the capacity and passion of the public. There has not been so much of a queue as a procession. People wait patiently, talking quietly, look at the boats and share the dream. You sense a certain harmony, forming a communion between the event and the public. There is something which develops between the public and the skippers. People want to see them because they are heroes. The concept of the race is so simple that everyone can understand it, you don’t have to be any kind of sailor. I think mostly it is a beautiful, simple story, a legend. It is more than a competition, a race. This is the story of a confrontation between man and nature. Man in a world in which he is fragile faces nature which is big and dangerous. But whether you are French, Brazilian or Japanese you can live this race. And the race is gaining an even more international dimension.”
 
  THEY SAID… 
 
 
 
 
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“These three weeks in Les Sables d’Olonne have been amazing, I have loved it, we do not see this atmosphere anywhere else. ”

Sam Davies, Savéol
“The Vendée Globe is a global race already as we go around the world solo. ”

Tanguy de Lamotte, Initiatives-Coeur
“I wish my 19 rivals three months at sea which are as great as the three weeks before the start! ”

Kito de Pavant, Groupe Bel
  “Team Plastique “I’m really excited to go, we still have a little work, it will be ready in two days …”

Alessandro Di Benedetto
“It is important that each of us enjoy our Vendée Globe and sail safely carefully, because it is a long course. ”  

Mike Golding, Gamesa